The Trustee's Legal Companion
(by Attorneys Carol Elias Zolla and Liza Hanks)

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Why read The Trustee's Legal Companion

Blurb includes:
Serving as the trustee of a living trust after someone has died can be a big task — and you probably wonder just where you're supposed to start. The Trustee's Legal Companion contains the help you need to get organized, get moving, and do a good job.

[The book shows you] ... how to:

  • Decide whether or not to take on the job of trustee.
  • Set up ongoing trusts for the surviving spouse, children, or someone with a disability.
  • Invest trust assets.
  • Get help from lawyers, accountants, financial planners and other experts.
  • Prepare accountings.
  • Handle taxes.
  • Develop good relationships with beneficiaries.
  • Distribute trust property.
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Index:

Introduction: The Trustee's Companion

Brief introduction to this practical workbook.

1. Should You Serve as Trustee?

"Think twice about taking the job if:
You don't get along with the beneficiaries . . .
You don't know what the settlor owned and think it will be hard to find out . . .
Lawsuits are threatened or already in progress . . .
You're named along with a cotrustee." [p.5] [p. 31]
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  1. Getting the Big Picture

  2. Trustees and Executors: What's the Difference?

  3. What Kind of Trust Do You Have?
  4. Is There a Cotrustee?
  5. Is the Settlor Incapacitated?
  6. Are the Records a Mess?
  7. Can You Get Along With Beneficiaries?
  8. Other Issues You May Be Concerned About

  9. If You Decide to Say No

2. Thinking Like a Trustee

  1. Fiduciary Duty: It's All About the Beneficiaries
    As a trustee, you must administer the trust solely in the interests of the trust beneficiaries . . . If you just keep repeating, "It's not my money," you'll do a better job with this.
      Obviously, you can't use trust money for your own needs. You can't borrow trust money, even if you fully intend to repay it later. You can't borrow trust money, even if you fully intend to repay it later. You can't place it in an account you own. You can't forget to keep careful records. You certainly cannot take advantage of your position as trustees to benefit yourself. [p. 31]
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  2. Get Help When You Need It

3. Working With Beneficiaries

  1. Communicate Well and Often

  2. Should You Share the Trust Document With Beneficiaries?
  3. What Beneficiaries Need to Know
  4. What Unhappy Beneficiaries Can Do
  5. Heading Off Trouble
  6. If You Are Also a Beneficiary
  7. If You Are Administering an Ongoing Trust

4. The First Few Months

This chapter is terrifically practical and helpful — one of the best in the book!
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  1. Get Death Certificates.
  2. Find and File the Will
  3. Notify the Social Security Administration
  4. Notify the State Department of Health
  5. Identify the Beneficiaries
  6. Notify Beneficiaries and Heirs
  7. Inventory Trust Assets
  8. Protect Trust Property
  9. Get a Taxpayer ID Number for the Trust
  10. Get Property in Your Name as Trustee
  11. Review Trust Investments
  12. Establish a Record-Keeping System
  13. Get Assets Appraised
  14. Pay Debts and Creditors' Claims

5. Assets That Should Be in the Trust — But Aren't

  1. Trust Assets Not Listed in the Trust Document
  2. What Goes Into the Trust and What Stays Out
  3. What Does the Will Say?

  4. Getting Property Into the Trust

6. Life Insurance, Retirement Plans, and Other Assets Outside the Trust

  1. Life Insurance
  2. Pension Plans
  3. Traditional IRAs and 401(k) Plans
  4. Roth Plans
  5. Survivorship Property
  6. Payable-on-Death Property

7. Getting Help When You Need It

  1. Real Estate Maintenance
  2. Organizing Personal Property

  3. Legal Advice

  4. Appraisals
  5. Taxes
  6. Investing
  7. Trust Accountings

8. Managing Ongoing Trusts

  1. Kinds of Ongoing Trusts
  2. Trusts for Surviving Spouses
  3. Trusts for Children
  4. Special Needs Trusts
  5. Who Gets Trust Money and When?

9. Investing Trust Assets

  1. The Duty to Invest Prudently
  2. Permissible Investments
  3. Getting Help
  4. From Investment Experts
  5. The Beneficiaries' Needs
  6. Balancing the Needs of Current and Future Beneficiaries
  7. Handling Real Estate
  8. What to Do With Business Assets

10. Dealing With Taxes

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  1. There's Always a Taxpayer

  2. Careful: You Could Be Personally Liable
  3. Tax Returns You May Have to File

  4. Beneficiaries and Taxes
  5. Missing Returns

  6. The Final Personal Income Tax Return: Form 1040
  7. The Trust's Income Tax Return: Form 1041
  8. The Federal Estate Tax Return
  9. State Estate Tax
  10. Other Taxes You Need to Be Aware Of

11. Trust Accountings

  1. How Often Must You Prepare Accountings?
  2. Who Should Prepare Accountings?
  3. A Typical Simple Trust Accounting
  4. Who Gets a Copy?
  5. Delivering the Accounting to Beneficiaries

12. Terminating the Trust

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  1. When Does the Trust End?

  2. How to Distribute Trust Assets

  3. Filing the Final Fiduciary Income Tax Return

  4. Keeping Some Trust Money in Reserve

  5. Receipts From Beneficiaries
  6. Should You Ask Beneficiaries to Sign Releases?
  7. Final Correspondence With the Beneficiaries
  8. Telling the IRS You're No Longer Trustee

Glossary and Appendixes

Glossary

Terms include [pp. 307-310]:

Appendixes

  1. State information.
  2. Sample trust.

Books

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